Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:
Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostępny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacji Legimi na:
Don't ask why
The taxi approached Gudrun without her having raised the arm. She obviously looked strange within the rural surrounding in her navy blue suit, matching shoulder bag and a fashionable suitcase. The little station square could not raise the status of the building above a residential house and appeared to enclose her as a foreign object.
It seemed that nobody would stray over here who wasn't born at that place.
Yet, apparently the pine tree, looking over the little hotel on the opposite site, waved at her. "Welcome!"
The taxi chauffeur opened the door. She was surprised that the place had a taxi after all.
"Would you like to take a seat, lady?"
"Yes, to the Goede castle, please."
Did he muster her in an odd way or did she just fancy it?
The driver came out and put her luggage in the trunk. He then opened the door and she took a seat. They drove about fifteen minutes through plain land. Not too quick, as the road was bad and the car already a day older. They passed a light wood and suddenly the view opened and Gudrun spotted behind a water ditch her destination, the Goede castle.
She was a bit disappointed. A weather-beaten brick building looked behind a wooden bridge, showing remainders of a previous plastering. Tiny windows looked hostilely towards her. Behind that the main building with a massive round tower and high tiled roof projected.
A little moated castle so, defensive and gloomy. How could someone live in it, nowadays?
"Best luck than" the driver said, after he had passed her the suitcase and the fare received. He didn't be too talkative. Suiting the scenery, she thought.
"Should I wait?" he asked. "Perhaps nobody is in there. Or are you expected?"
"Yes, I'm expected. Thank you"
She already walked over the bridge with her high-heeled shoes, which were completely out of place. The bridge was covered with planks and she could see the water under it through the occasional gaps. She had to walk very carefully and she was so concentrated looking down that she almost bumped against the double door in the round archway. Normally visitors would come on horseback or in a carriage, but not in town shoes and with a trolley case, she thought.
Why was she here anyway? She became a little uneasy. Was it really a wise resolution? But she never challenged a decision once made. Thus she was here. To see Mr. Soerensen again. For one year they had been working together at 'Frederic & Sons', import and export. He as a mercantile man and she as chief secretary. She was still employed there and now on holiday. One year ago Soerensen had moved to his inherited castle and had quit his job. As a sideline he wrote books already at that time, but now perhaps as his main occupation. She knew his works, three till now. All with erotic subjects, not unpleasant to read.
Actually they were not directly friends. They liked each other; no doubt, they even had been out together a few times. But she didn't even know whether they had been on first name basis. Sometimes he had called her Gudrun, but in office they communicated on formal terms. At his farewell he said casually, "You may visit me sometime, here is my visiting card. I have sufficient guest rooms and the region is perfect to make holidays, absolutely quiet. Just send a post card."
Actual, they had not written post cards only. Last time a kind letter arrived, in formal words, but repeating his invitation. Eventually she had accepted and announced her arrival. To be honest, not meeting him again had attracted her in the first place but seeing the mysterious castle, of which he had raved so often.
And now she hadn't even been collected from the train.
Her mother had been anxious about her travelling to such remote place alone. Surely it was a bit unusual, but she had asked nobody for advice. She always had been independent, with a sense for the uncommon, extraordinary, the mystically. And for the jeopardy. Just therefore.
She tugged the bell pull vigorously and listened to the echo. Silence again. Then a voice, "Coming. Just a minute!" A latticed shutter opened and an unknown face appeared behind, looking at her silently for a short moment. A bolt was pushed back and one half of the door opened. The man was stout, sturdy build, in open shirt and jeans.
"Come in," he said. "You are expected already. Welcome at the Goede castle." He took a step back with an inviting gesture."
"Thank you," Gudrun answered. "Are you the caretaker?"
She immediately grew angry with herself about such silly question. He was much too young for that, she possibly had insulted him. But who knows how such old castles are maintained, nowadays. Surely it wasn't an easy job.
"You may even call it like that," he laughed and held out his powerful hand. "My name is Karl."
He then took her suitcase, pushed the bolt back and gestured to the main building. "Let's go!"
When he noticed her sceptical glance at the bare building he added, "Inside it's more cosy."
From the dark archway they entered into a square yard with a draw well in its centre. Next to it stood an old Rolls-Royce. And she had expected to see horses. Not that she wanted to ride, but horses belonged to a real castle, according to her opinion. But this one was anyhow a miniature edition.
Curiously she looked around. Next to the gate probably the servant's lodgings must have been. A narrow and low angled house which joined the main building. On the right side a brick wall defined the yard towards the moat.
The 'palas', a rather flattering designation for that two storey structure, having high but narrow windows divided by many glazing bars. Only the entrance door had a stone decoration.
"I hope you will like the place," her escort said as he noticed her looking around.
Once they had climbed the semicircular staircase, the door opened and HE stood there. Straddle-legged, tall and slender, dressed in turtle-neck jumper and fashionable tight trousers. She only remembered him in correct business suite with decent tie.
Immediately she was caught by his radiant appearance and she didn't resist as he took her in his arms and placed a kiss on her cheek.
Gudrun was speechless and got red all over, whereas Karl grinned from ear to ear. Eric Soerensen left his arm on her shoulder and pulled her inside. Only now he said, "I'm glad you came. I can use first name, can I, Gudrun?"
What could she say? She was cached off-guard.
"Why didn't you send a telegram with your arrival time? I would have collected you from the station. You surely came with old Asmussen. But now you are here. Let me have a look at you!"
With both hands he pushed her away and examined her blithely from head to feet. Her fair hair falling over her shoulders, her oval face with the little too pointed nose, every curve of her suit, somewhat short in this surrounding, her endless long legs and the unsuitable shoes with such high heels.
"Has the cat got your tongue?" he asked laughingly. Indeed she hadn't said any word so far.
"I'm somewhat surprised and confused," she stammered and examined the octagonal floor tiles.
"That doesn't matter. It contributes to your lovely appearance," Eric said, embraced her waist and dragged her ahead. "The main thing is you are here!"
Karl pushed the suitcase towards a dark, reach decorated staircase, which seemed to fill out the entire hall. Gudrun could not perceive anything more at the moment, because she had her look cast down like a school girl, as Eric guided her towards a glazed door passing the stairs.
Behind a small winter garden was hidden, having oval layout, with narrow rung spacing windows over the entire height, and with lush plants in front.
Right hand was a wicker furniture suite with red checked cushions, placed around an open fire place. The entire room wasn't bigger than approximately six by eight yards; however, it appeared spacious due to its unusual form and the high windows. She immediately knew that she would feel comfortable in it. The sun cast bizarre shadows on the tiles and she could see the woods behind the moat. There couldn't be any frightening in a castle with such room.
"Now take a seat first," Eric said and pushed her down in one of the armchairs. "We will have enough time to inspect everything. This castle is unimpressive from outside, but it is very cosy and easy to maintain."
After a break he added, "And it harbours many secrets. Did you eat already?"
No, she hadn't anything in her stomach, apart from her breakfast at home. He went to get it organised.
Gudrun appreciated to be a few minutes alone. Would it be possible to fish in the moat? Sitting comfortably in the chair, reading a book, an open fire in the back and holding the fishing rod out of the window. When a carp would bite she would say "Hello" and recommend the kitchen for massage. If not, it wouldn't matter. She already felt as the lady of the castle, but if the bowers came in her mind she got a queasy feeling. Eric definitely was a bit too poised. How he kissed her off-handedly… She didn't want to kick up a fuss in front of the manservant Karl, but in future she would keep him at distance, firstly. What did he think she was?
When Eric came back she sat absentmindedly with her back towards the door and looked out of the window. Before she could turn around he had already placed a kiss on her neck and reported that dinner would be ready.
"Perhaps you wanted to freshen up at first, but I thought eating would be more important, being half past two already. Here you can wash your hands at least." He showed her the small toilet, which had been built into the winter garden afterwards, door to the hall.
The dining room was located opposite the staircase, a comfortable room in spite its size of 60 square yards. This was contributed by the big Persian carpet und the round dining table, the coloured dark leather wallpaper, and the heavy, dark coffered ceiling. Behind the massive table with its six chairs stood a grandfather clock and opposite a big fireplace made of white tiles. Next to a glass cabinet was the kitchen door from where a young and handsome woman emerged, wearing a white bonnet and apron. Gudrun hadn't expected otherwise. Eric introduced her as Brigitta. Nothing else. Are they all here on first-name term? Of course, servants are called by their first name only.
Brigitta served fried chicken, green beans and bread. She apologised that she didn't have potatoes ready due to the uncertain arrival time. A light wine was served to the meal which Gudrun sipped avidly. Eric raised his glass to her, but didn't eat anything.
"We had dinner already," he told her. Gudrun wondered who "we" would be but said nothing. Brigitta had remained at the table and refilled beans. She had pleasant curves, a bit too corpulent. Her brown hairs were tied back to a bun. The coloured smock she wore under the apron was opened one knob too much. Gudrun wasn't disturbed by that, but she registered it. The women gave a deep insight into her cleavage. She also realized that Brigitta avoided a direct addressing. She didn't say "madam" or something. Perhaps, nowadays such addressing wasn't modern anymore.
After dinner they finished the wine bottle, sitting relaxed in the easy chairs placed in the corner. One sank deep into them and Gudrun could inspect calmly the nice surrounding.
"In former times everywhere antlers hung at the walls Eric told her," but I have banned them all to the attic, except this one. It is an extraordinary twelve-pointer, shot by my grandfather. I make nothing of hunting and have leased the hunting ground. Anyway, I have modernized the whole estate except the ground floor of the main building. The previous stables are now economic areas and garages. Now we also have current and running water. The draw well in the yard is just for decoration these days."
Although she realized how proud Eric was of all this, Gudrun wasn't in the mood to now visit all the other rooms. The wine pressed her into the cushions. Her skirt had shifted upwards but she had no energy to rectify her appearance. Brigitta, cleaning the table, looked to her somewhat mockingly as Eric seated himself besides her chair, pulled her head backwards and kissed her easily on the mouth. All she thought of it was that he could have waited till the maid would leave the room. Withal she watched openly. Gudrun wanted to rebel inwardly but a new kiss let her melt away.
Then Eric got up and pulled her with him. "You certainly want to clean yourself and have a rest."
In the first moment she needed his support. As they passed Brigitta she struck her hairs. This unexpected action confused her to the extent that she hardly remembered how she climbed the stairs.
Somewhere somebody played a waltz of Chopin on the piano. Was that unknown person the "we?" And how come that young pretty cooks caress the visitor? Questions upon questions.
Upstairs she quickly entered the balcony which was situated above the winter garden. Fresh air would do her good. Eric went very close behind her and pressed her against the stone balustrade.
"You are very silent", he observed.
"I'm quite confused with everything here", was her answer.
"Why that? What do you mean?"
She didn't know and tried to bring her thoughts in order.
"I want to get changed now", she said and pushed him lightly away.
He immediately set her free. He guided her through some sort of a gallery into a dressing room and in a small bed chamber behind. Her suitcase lay already on the large four-poster bed. She was delighted at once.
"May I sleep here?" she asked a bit doubtfully.
Eric nodded. Gudrun slumped on the bed and ascertained with satisfaction that this ancient bed had a modern foam rubber mattress. He still showed her the way to a bathroom, accessible via the dressing room and a sauna, and then left her alone.
She had showered, her clothing unpacked and stowed into the wardrobe. Now she lay on the bed with just her panties and bra. She had arranged her clothing, the light brown-white striped wool dress which certainly would bring off her figure, but yet she was too lazy to get dressed.
She tried to realise what she could expect here. A new discovery disturbed her, but at the same time she got strangely aroused. None of the doors could be locked as no key was available. Whether this was intentionally? Nevertheless she didn't get clothed. Surely it was just her holiday fancy or the result of the wine, unaccustomed at the time of the day, accompanied by the travel efforts.
With what expectations she actually came to this place? To an almost strange man, who lived alone on his lonesome castle. No, not alone. There was also a young female cook, who caressed the visitor and obviously had another role too, and somebody who played Chopin. In addition a manservant, or whatever he was, who extended one's hand to an arriving lady.
She must have dozed off. When she opened her eyes she looked straight in Eric's face. He abated nonchalantly against the open door which surely she had closed but rather not locked. It wasn't possible. Instantly she tried to cover herself with the blanket but as she lay on it she got muddled and succeeded just imperfectly.
"Oh!" she called appalled. If he would have laughed now, she would have yelled at him and insist on her immediate departure. But he didn't laugh but just said in a gracious tone, quite naturally, "Did you sleep well princess? Coffee is served in the winter garden. I'll wait for you downstairs. Thereafter we could make a little walk."
And he was gone already, closing the door behind.
Only now her indignation reached the surface, but there was nobody any more to whom she could have shown it.
What for revolt then? For how long he might have looked at her? After all, in a bikini he would not have seen anything more. So, what the hell!
Rapidly the dress was taken on, jewellery put on and hairs combed. Then she was on the way downstairs.
In the gallery she briefly looked round. An open fire place next to the door, a lounger below a shelf with all sorts of stuff, a desk, two armchairs. The look out of the window was the same as from the balcony. What, however, fascinated here were the pictures on the wall. Photographs, portrait studies of girls. She counted eleven.
That's how her predecessors looked. She was confident that they were her predecessors. Although she didn't have any 'relationship' with Eric. Not yet.
Although portraits only, she had the feeling that none of the females wore any clothing.
She had to hurry, could only have a short look, but one of them could be Brigitta. Could be, if one imagined her hairs pinned up. Brigitta …anyhow no name for a cook. They always were called … simply differently. And this chap dared to live with her together in the same house.
Anyhow, she would enjoy her holiday, but never go that far … She didn't complete her thoughts and went down the stairs. She entered the winter garden with a beaming smile. There she felt secure.
Eric got up gallantly and set a chair in place for her. The coffee smell and the sun rays still coming in, level from West, pushed her indignation aside, firstly. However, she decided to stay alert.
Eric chatted enchanting. He told her the castle history, how it looked when he was minor, how he inherited it later from his father and how he had converted it with much effort, time and money. Now, however, everything was complete. Perhaps something should be done outside.
Gudrun' dress was too short again, especially as she wore stockings. For some old-fashioned reason she never had made up her mind to wear tights. Besides, she liked to show her slender legs and amused herself when men got longing eyes as soon they discovered a suspender belt buckle. At the moment, however, she tugged at her dress and was glad as Eric proposed to start.
At the yard she admired the timber shingled round roof above the well. Otherwise the small yard was without decoration, apart from some bushes and flowerbeds.
Eric opened a gate in the western boundary wall, leading to a wooden platform and they went down e few stairs to an anchored small boat. Slowly he rowed once around the whole site. When they floated under the bridge she looked up and imagined the view she gave when she balanced over the planks. Instinctively she pressed her legs together as Eric sat opposite her. She didn't dare to stroke the ducks, although Eric said they wouldn't mind. Surely this would be wrong and he just wanted to have her stiff figure moving a bit. She got to be annoyed about herself. She shouldn't have selected the short dress; trousers would have been the better choice.
When they landed he gallantly helped her out of the swaying boat. As he put his arm around her waist on a forest path she had no objection. Why should she? It was very romantic and relaxing to wander through the forest. Without the arm it would have been just relaxing.
They might have walked three-quarter of an hour when they reached an inn on top of a knoll. They entered and were greeted respectfully. Gudrun was addressed courteously with "good evening, madam". This pleased her and lulled her alertness, but more likely because of the sharp juice served with the ham.
And that is how it came that he kissed her for quite some time just outside the house and cradled her tightly. Embraced they returned. It was dark already when they reached the boat.
She was old enough after all Gudrun thought, anyway twenty-fife, modern minded, independent, and she was on holidays. It had just started. And not too bad.
Eric kissed her as he helped her out of the boat, he kissed her before he opened the gate, and he kissed her again when they were in the dark hall. Only then he turned on the light. The ancestors at the walls looked at her emotionless. No greetings, no welcome, but no hostility either. Then, as if he could read her thoughts, he guided her into the winter garden and pushed her in an arm chair. At the glow of guttering beech firewood logs they sat next to each other and held hands. Now Gudrun was confident that it would become a holiday as she had figured herself in her subconsciousmind: quiet, relaxing and spiced with a little affair. What interested her Brigitta. She must be sitting alone somewhere and perhaps would be comforted by Karl.
The wood had been burned down and she felt a bit chilly, as she suddenly felt his hand on her thighs. How did it come there? She had to be on guard as the hand had uptrend and was entangled already in the hem. And if so, not here in the winter garden. She stood up and said she had to go to bed. She said it more casually then repelling, and though they went upstairs hand in hand.
In the gallery she asked him why his ancestors had been such beautiful girls. Laughing he just replied, "No why" and sealed her mouth with a kiss. Then he broke away and explained that he would sleep right there on the couch and wished here a good night.
Gudrun was relieved but at the same time a bit belied. She stud on tiptoe for a last kiss and vanished in the dressing room next to her bed-chamber. She was grateful that the doors could not be locked, for she had been relieved from the decision to keep it open or shut it off. During holidays one should take things as they come.
As usual she placed her clothing orderly together, slipped in her pink nightgown, crawled under the blanket and doused the light with the tassel on a long string.
In the dark she listened to her heart and reconsidered the day. She couldn't make up her mind whether she wanted Eric in her bed or not. Several strange noises in the house frightened her, but aroused a peculiar tension in her too.
At one time she wanted to bar the door but then go to his room. Once she reminded herself that holidays had just started, and then fearing it would be too short. However, she stayed lying, unable to move a muscle, but particularly to be afraid to let anything look out under the blanket, except her nose. Eventually she fell asleep, curled up like a cat.
She woke up from getting chilly. Just now she had been running barefooted over a green meadow with lot of flowers. The wind had blown up her too short dress ... when she opened her eyes. It was bright already in the room. Her blanket had been folded back and Eric was sitting on the edge of her bed and eyed her blatantly. At the first moment she wanted to jump up and shout. Her yesterday's thoughts were scared off from the daylight. But she remained like numbed and wasn't even able to open her mouth. Just as her spirits came back and she wanted to protest he kissed her and placed his hand on her bare belly, uncovered from her nightgown. That made her speechless again. She decided to yell as soon as the hand would move but nothing happened. Then he straitened and looked at her seriously but with warms spreading eyes. Thus how could she be angry with him?
"Good morning you sleepyhead," he said. "It's already nine o'clock and the sun is shining again. Are you unused to the fresh country air?"
The wine had his part too she thought and answered, "Good Morning. May I dress now?"
She looked down her body and was relieved to notice that the fabric of her nightgown was hardly see-trough.
"Of course you can," was his answer but he made no move to leave her alone.
Gudrun considered whether she must get vigorous now, but she considered too long. It wasn't adequate no more. She rolled to the other side, took her cloths and vanished in the bath room. Thus she had no choice but to wear the same dress as yesterday. As doors could not be locked she didn't dare to properly wash herself, much less to shower. Even here he could have come in any time.